Posted 3/16/07CLICK TO PRINT

Eleuthero - Eleutherococcus senticosus ("Siberian ginseng," Ginseng siberiano, Eleuterococo, devil’s shrub, devil’s root, touch-me-not)

This species is not considered a true ginseng. It belongs to the same plant family (Araliaceae) as the true ginsengs (Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius), but not the same genus, and as such does not contain the same active components. As of 2002, U.S. law forbids the labelling of eleuthero as “Siberian ginseng” or “ginseng."

Botanical / Herb extract

The root of Eleutherococcus senticosus is used in teas, capsules, tinctures, and extracts.

Eleuthero is native to Asia. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat rheumatism, weak liver and kidneys, low energy levels, and to prevent respiratory tract infections, including colds and the flu.

The term adaptogen was coined by Soviet scientists to describe the pysiology-balancing qualities of this herb.

FUNCTION: Used to combat stress and fatigue, promote physical endurance and mental concentration ability, and boost the immune system

The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, eleutherosides (similar to ginsenosides in the panax species), are thought to increase stamina and to stimulate the immune system

DOSAGE: These recommendations are as per the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine (a National Institutes of Health NIH Center of Excellence for research in complementary medicine and a NIH International Center for traditional Chinese medicine research):

• Dried root: The recommended dose is 500 to 3,000 milligrams dried root daily (tea, or in capsules).
• Tincture: (herb and alcohol; or herb, alcohol, and water), one teaspoon three times per day.
• Fluid extract (1:1): 1/2 to 1 tsp. Two to three times per day.
• Extract (33% alcohol extract): 40 to 120 drops one to three times per day.
• Solid extracts, made from dried, powdered root are also available. Look for products that contain at least 1% eleutheroside F, and take 100 to 200 mg three times per day.

To increase stamina or resistance to stress, one of the forms recommended above can be taken for one month on and one month off.

For chronic conditions such as fatigue, eleuthero can be taken for three months, followed by 2 to 3 weeks off. These cycles can be repeated, but this should be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

DATA: A 4-week study in healthy subjects found that those who received Siberian ginseng extract had improvements in a number of measures that reflect the functioning of the immune system.

A 3-month human study of Siberian ginseng among middle aged volunteers found that there was a significant improvement in memory and concentration.

Another popular but unproven use of Siberian ginseng is to maintain or restore mental alertness.

Although Siberian ginseng is frequently used to enhance physical stamina and increase muscle strength, studies have shown mixed results for these purposes.

CAUTIONS: Avoid in pregnancy and lactation.

Avoid use in patients with high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease.

Eleuthero may interact with certain medications, such as sedatives, barbiturates and anti psychotic drugs.

Diabetics should ingest it solely under medical supervision. Eleuthero may cause an increase in the effects of oral antidiabetic medications.

Avoid combining this herb with other plants or substances that have a stimulating effect upon the central nervous system, such as Guaraná, Coffee, Ephedra, mate or black tea.

Avoid use during acute phase of infections.

Avoid use at night in patients suffering from insomnia.

University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine's entry on eleuthero.
CM4 Eleuthero Extract (Omega Pharmaceuticals) Each bottle, 60 ml.
PRODUCT NOTES: From the manufacturer: "Since the active ingredients are stabilized in alcohol, persons with sensitivity to even small medicinal quantities of alcohol can heat CM4 slightly to evaporate the alcohol off."

Manufacturer website:

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease